The Wind Rises (2013 IMDb)

Viewing

Seen in 2014.

Categorization

A biography of Horikoshi Jirō, where most of the man's professional life is portrayed accurately, and practically everything about his private life is fiction. Written and directed by Miyazaki Hayao, adapted from his own comics. Miyazaki has stated that the character of Horikoshi's wife was lifted from The Wind Has Risen (1937) by Hori Tatsuo. The film is dedicated to both Horikoshi and Hori.

Subject

A near-sighted boy grows up to engineer airplanes. He is guided by dreams, especially by an imagined version of Count “Gianni” Caproni (1886-1957), who advises Horikoshi to accept the use of their work for killing. The film leads up to Horikoshi's first successful design for the Imperial Japanese Navy: the Mitsubishi A5M fighter.

Commentary

Good human sound effects. Good visuals, although the dream sequences are dominated by rather dull grassy plains. The untrained and inexperienced Anno Hideaki performs poorly in the lead role. The love story is poorly conceived and executed, with the exception of some intimate shots laden with oxytocin.

The main reason why the love story bores me is that Naoko is sketched only loosely, as a type, specifically the wan victim of a disease that makes her passive without impacting on her yamato nadeshiko exterior. This type, originating in (pre-)Victorian literature, might as well have been lifted straight from the countless moe games and anime produced in the 15 years leading up to this film, an impression reinforced by the stereotypically fateful meeting of the two lovers as children and by Naoko's tragic death. Indeed, Horikoshi's character in the otherwise excellent scenes of the 1923 earthquake is that of the stereotypical porn game adaptation protagonist: unassuming and selfless to a fault, like Fujita Hiroyuki of To Heart (1999).

The gender roles in this film are an infamous contrast against Miyazaki's previous productions, and rightly so. While the little sister is clownish in her constant negativity, Naoko is supportive to the point of self-annihilation, and beyond. In death, Naoko exhorts Horikoshi to “live”. Her role is very close to that of the amusingly wry Caproni mentor/father figure, who says basically the same thing. Both characters exhort Horikoshi to do what he wants and ignore the consequences. At its heart, the film is a fantasy about constant encouragement toward egotism.

Miyazaki is obviously and—in interviews—explicitly ambivalent about Horikoshi's work as a voluntary bottleneck in the production of certain instruments of violence for an obviously unworthy regime. This ambivalence gives the film its ambiguity, a trait it shares with a book it references, Thomas Mann's The Magic Mountain (1924).

References here: “Don't mention the war!”, Ghibli movie titles, The Kingdom of Dreams and Madness (2013).

Ghibli Japanese production Miyazaki Hayao Suzuki Toshio animation movie